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  • Credit Union Takes a Step Back to Better Align Hispanic Outreach Efforts

    Posted by on December 10, 2013

    With 40 percent of its local market claiming Hispanic heritage, the growth path of People’s Trust Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Houston, Texas, was pretty clear: It would be critical to make a strategic investment in expanding the credit union’s Hispanic outreach efforts.

    In 2008, People’s Trust began advertising on Spanish television network Telemundo. After a couple of years, however, that effort was put on hold. The People’s Trust leadership team challenged the staff to better understand how the credit union could serve its current and future Hispanic members before advertising. “Our Sr. Management asked us some really tough questions to get us thinking more strategically about our outreach efforts, including how we were internally supporting these members,” said Patsy Jalomo, People’s Trust marketing manager. “We realized that we were not prepared to tackle this alone, and that we needed help from people who have expertise in the Hispanic market.”

    Through its relationship with the Cornerstone Credit Union League, People’s Trust was referred to Coopera, and a partnership between the two companies was formed. In February 2013, Coopera conducted a Hispanic Opportunity Navigator (HON) of the local Houston market for People’s Trust, and according to Jalomo, the results were a real eye-opener for the credit union.

    “The HON confirmed what our Sr. Management team suspected, specifically that we were not as prepared to serve the Hispanic market as we needed to be,” said Jalomo. “We had the bilingual staff to support our initiatives, but we were missing other basics, like bilingual marketing collateral and documents. We also realized we need to take a closer look at our product  portfolio to determine if we had the right mix to meet the financial needs of our Hispanic consumers.

    “The HON research highlighted where our opportunities were and where we needed to focus our attention,” said Jalomo.

    With more to accomplish before the credit union could expect to successfully reach the Hispanic market, People’s Trust made the decision to slow the pace of implementation and follow the direction recommended by the HON. “The HON really made our discovery process much simpler,” said Jalomo. “Coopera did an excellent job of really looking into the data, understanding it and giving us a solid recommendation of how to move forward.”

    Following Coopera’s guidance, People’s Trust used the results of the HON to quickly classify its primary and secondary markets in the local Hispanic community. The credit union also identified its goals for the Hispanic outreach initiative, including membership and loan volume growth, as well as increasing the credit union’s products-per-member ratio — extensions of the credit union’s overall strategic growth goals.

    From there, the credit union put together an internal task force, composed of staff from each of the credit union’s departments, to work closely with its outreach implementation team to identify tasks, set timelines, assign roles and responsibilities, as well as host strategic planning sessions and manage expectations. “The big question from our staff and our leadership teams has been ‘How soon can we get things in process and completed,’” said Jalomo. “With our task force and implementation teams now working so closely together, we anticipate needing 4 to 6 months to get everything in place and formally launching our efforts in June (2014).”

    Although slowing down the Hispanic outreach process may, at first, have seemed counter-intuitive to the credit union’s growth goals, Jalomo confirmed it’s been the right decision. “Hispanic outreach is definitely a priority for People’s Trust,” said Jalomo. “Yet, we don’t want to make it too urgent that we miss the strategic intent. There is a lot to do, and we want to do it right.

    “Targeting Hispanics is not a quick fix to our membership growth goals,” finished Jalomo. “It’s a long process that requires a lot of patience and investment in time and effort, and we’re committed to its success.”

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    Success Happens Over Time

    Posted by on September 10, 2013

    For Affinity Credit Union, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa., success with Hispanic outreach and membership growth efforts did not happen overnight. The 12,000-member credit union started its outreach through a series of community sponsorships, and over the years, has grown efforts to become a full business development initiative.

    According to Affinity CEO Sandy Robinson, Affinity recognized a need for its credit union to better serve Hispanics in the local Des Moines market several years ago. In consulting regularly with Coopera, Robinson and Affinity came to understand that to be able to relate to new Hispanic members, staff needed to immerse themselves in the culture. “This is a culture where trust building is essential,” said Robinson. “Only after Hispanic community members understand you are there to help them can you begin showing them all the great things you can do to improve their lives.”

    The credit union began by forming a mostly external task force made up of employees and local small business owners to act as an advisory council to the board and the staff. “Our first attempt at the task force fell apart,” admitted Robinson, “I believe we started it too early in our Hispanic efforts, and perhaps not having a diverse enough group, was the reason our first attempt was unsuccessful. But, we regrouped and tried again. We focused first on community sponsorships, such as the annual Latino Heritage Festival and local soccer teams, and then expanded our efforts.”

    During this time, Affinity added staff, growing from two bilingual employees to five, and split its internal task force into two groups — an employee one focused on implementation, as well as a management one focused on strategy. And, the credit union implemented Coopera’s cultural immersion training program for its employees. “To best understand the Hispanic culture, we needed to become part of it,” said Robinson. “We took employees to outings at local Hispanic grocery stores and restaurants, asking them to interact with the store employees in Spanish. We also made a point to join local organizations that help further our outreach to the Hispanic community.”

    In partnership with Coopera, other efforts have included: The translation of its marketing collateral and branch signage into Spanish, a dedicated page on its website in Spanish, advertising on the local Hispanic radio station and a dedicated Spanish-language Facebook page.

    Also with Coopera’s guidance, Affinity has made a point to offer products specifically tailored to the needs of Hispanic members, including a credit builder loan program, which has resulted in a significant amount of new business for the credit union. According to Robinson, Affinity also discovered that its Hispanic members were more likely to have loans than its non-Hispanic members. “In June alone, we wrote 10 new loans and opened six new accounts for Hispanic members,” said Robinson. “Of those six new accounts, five of them were referred to us through our radio advertisements, and one was referred to us by an employer. Referrals and other word of mouth resources are the best leads for new business within the Hispanic market.”

    Since November of 2011, Robinson notes that Affinity’s Hispanic membership has grown 32 percent, and that 55.8 percent of the credit union’s Hispanic members are under the age of 40, with the average age being 36.

    Through Affinity’s growth and successes, there have been many lessons learned. According to Robinson, any credit union that may be considering a relationship with the Hispanic community should plan carefully and implement thoughtfully. “It is important to get buy-in from all levels of the credit union team — from the board and management teams to your employees,” said Robinson. “Also, lay out a detailed plan of how you will move forward with your Hispanic initiatives. Don’t be afraid to try new things in order to succeed, and if an effort doesn’t get the results you’re hoping for, try something else.

    “Success in doing business with the Hispanic community takes time,” concluded Robinson. “Don’t get frustrated if you don’t see immediate results. It happens slowly and with a lot of effort on both the part of the credit union, as well as the new members you are targeting. Be patient, be genuine, and you will achieve results.”

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    Training Is a Key Part of the Process

    Posted by on May 21, 2013

    Implementing a successful Hispanic outreach program takes more than just translating a credit union’s marketing materials and collateral. As the employees of Fitzsimmons Federal Credit Union (FFCU) of Aurora, Colo., have discovered, training is a key part of the process.

    Taking advantage of Coopera’s expertise in both the credit union and Hispanic markets, FFCU has put an emphasis on training its staff over the last year. The goal? To strengthen the credit union’s internal infrastructure to better serve Hispanic members today and in the future.

    These efforts have included:
    – Regular attendance of Coopera’s Hispanic-outreach webinars
    – Bi-monthly staff meetings
    – Utilizing Coopera’s resource library
    – Monthly consulting with the Coopera client services team
    – Adding bilingual employees

    “We have made a commitment at every level of our credit union — the Board of Directors, executive management and staff — to learn as much as we can about the Hispanic community, particularly their financial needs,” said Sandy Neves, president and CEO, FFCU. “Through training, we have also come to understand how to apply what we know to each and every member interaction.”

    Through these efforts, FFCU has come to realize why training is such a necessary part of implementing a successful Hispanic outreach program. “We knew we had to get our internal structure in place before we could reach out to the Hispanic community. Coopera’s trainings are really comprehensive, and we are learning so much,” said Neves.

    “Training has definitely kept our staff engaged, focused and excited during the implementation process,” added Neves. “And, we’re realizing that everything we’ve learned will help all our members, not just Hispanic members.”

    It’s not only Neves and her management team who are impressed with the results. Here’s what FFCU’s employees have said about the benefits of training:

    “I speak Spanish a little bit, so I am somewhat familiar with the language, and I have been viewing the webinars from Coopera. I think they are a great resource, and all staff should view these webinars.”

    I believe having more Coopera training would be helpful. The webinars have been great resources.”

    “Partnering with Coopera has been very beneficial in guiding the credit union in preparing to enter the Hispanic market.”

    “We have received a wealth of resources from Coopera that will assist us.”

    “The Coopera webinars provide a lot of additional information and are a useful guide to the Hispanic Outreach Program.”

    “I appreciate continued education about the Hispanic culture, specific products and services and language. We are gaining this through our partnership with Coopera.”

    Neves noted that Coopera has learned a lot from FFCU through the training process too. “They ask us a lot of questions about our local market and have gained a better understanding of our Hispanics’ unique cultural and financial needs,” she said.

    And, according to Neves, this insight has allowed Coopera to better help FFCU tailor its approach to their local market. This is particularly important when it comes to breaking down any barriers or misunderstandings FFCU’s local Hispanic community might have about the U.S. financial system or how to highlight the credit union advantage.

    Leading up to the implementation of FFCU’s Hispanic outreach initiatives, the credit union also engaged Coopera to conduct a Hispanic Opportunity Navigator and marketing analysis, as well as perform translation services and make the El Poder es Tuyo website available to members.

    “Hispanics aren’t just another demographic,” said Neves. “Growing our Hispanic membership base is central to our current and future growth strategies. We could not have done this without Coopera’s help.”

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    Reach Hispanics through Financial Literacy

    Posted by on April 23, 2013

    Financial literacy is one of the most critical services that your credit union can provide members, particularly the Hispanic community in your area. Many Hispanics in the U.S. today are underserved, turning to friends and family for loans, or worse to expensive check-cashing or payday loan establishments.

    With one out of two U.S. Hispanics being unbanked or underserved, your credit union has a tremendous opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of Hispanic members.

    Coopera client Security One Federal Credit Union in Arlington, Texas, believes financial literacy efforts need to focus on the whole family’s financial needs. This begins by teaching children about saving and the advantages of holding a youth account and goes all the way through to helping parents understand how to improve credit scores or secure loans. Also, Security One works to educate business owners on the importance of budgeting expenses, filing taxes and preparing for audits.

    Business Development Coordinator Danny Garcia said, “At Security One, we are focused on growing the Hispanic community’s ability to be more financially independent. Through our assistance and guidance, individuals are able to better themselves financially, which makes the whole community stronger. We take a holistic approach, networking and partnering with schools and universities, churches, as well as community organizations, like libraries, medical centers and government agencies, to promote financial literacy and the credit union difference.”

    Some of the events Garcia and the team at Security One have participated in include:
    – a bilingual presentation on the financial system to nearly 50 Hispanic church members
    – a presentation on the importance of saving to 20 middle and high school students
    – partnering with the local Head Start program to share information on basic budgeting
    – sessions on how to build credit and secure auto financing

    Garcia and the Security One team is also working closely with local groups to host an upcoming 4-day mobile event to help Hispanics secure the identification documents they need
    for financial services, like checking and savings accounts, as well as auto, home and business loans and Security One’s “Faith” accounts. “It can take a month or more for Hispanics to get an appointment at the Mexican consulate for a Matricula card,” said Garcia. “Through the mobile event, we help 200 to 300 people per day signed up for Matricula ID cards each day. That’s the kind of effort that makes a real difference.”

    As with any new program, it’s important not to recreate the wheel when developing financial literacy initiatives. To get started, you can utilize resources and opportunities available through community partnerships, Coopera and other industry partners to supplement your programs. As Garcia and Security One have proved, networking and community involvement are vital in a credit union’s outreach efforts.

    Other resources readily available to your credit union include:

    Spanish Seminars in a Box

    Each Spanish Seminar in a Box contains culturally relevant Spanish content for your seminar and all of the materials you need to facilitate a successful session. All you need to do is add the presenter and have your outreach plan in place.
    Basic Steps to Managing Your Money: Spanish electronic member seminar kit
    Access to Money with Credit:  Spanish electronic member seminar kit

    El Poder es Tuyo Updates
    4/15: How to use your tax refund
    4/22: Don’t be a victim of tax ID theft
    – 4/29: What you need to know about for profit colleges
    5/6: How the credit union can help your family
    5/13: Preparing financially for the unexpected

    Hispanic Outreach Webinars
    How to Create Culturally Relevant and Compliant Marketing Messages to Hispanics: May 7 at 2 p.m. CST
    3 Ways to Repackage a Credit Builder Loan for Hispanic Members: June 12 at 2 p.m. CST
    3 Ways to Partner with Hispanic Businesses: September 17 at 2 p.m. CST
    3 Ways to Create an Inclusive Culture to Serve Hispanics: Archived until August 20
    4 Key Non-Traditional IDs You Can Accept to Open New Accounts: Archived until September 13
    Adapting Products and Services to Serving Immigrant Markets Archived until October

    International Credit Union Leadership Program
    The International Credit Union Leadership Program brings emerging leaders from around the world to various credit unions, both in the U.S. and abroad, for intensive short-term credit union internships designed to broaden their professional expertise.

    The program is designed to facilitate idea exchanges, promote foreign language development, enhance cultural diversity and improve problem-solving skills as they relate to global credit union development and management. The program also focuses on helping credit unions find new ways to attract young members.

    – Apr. 7-May 11, 2013: Costa Rican participants intern in Alabama, Florida, Oregon or Washington
    June 9-22, 2013: U.S. participants intern in Costa Rica
    Oct. 6-Nov. 9, 2013: Brazilian participants intern in Texas, Oregon or Washington
    Jan. 12-25, 2014: U.S. participants intern in Brazil

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    New York Credit Unions Enroll in Inaugural Hispanic Member Growth Strategy Program

    Posted by on January 8, 2013

    Building on their five-year partnership, the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) and Coopera have signed four credit unions to take part in the inaugural Hispanic Member Growth Strategy Program. Spots for four additional mid-sized credit unions to participate in the outreach program are still available.

    Demographics show the importance of helping New York credit unions grow by serving the Hispanic market. In New York:

    – Hispanics are the largest, fastest-growing, youngest and most underserved group in the U.S.
    – 17 percent of New Yorkers are Hispanic.
    – Hispanics will be New York’s largest minority group in 15 years.
    – By 2025, 1 in 5 New Yorkers will be Hispanic.

    As part of the Hispanic Member Growth Program, Coopera provides valuable resources and counseling to three small (assets under $25M) and five mid-sized ($25M-$500M in assets) New York credit unions, helping them identify Hispanic outreach opportunities within their neighborhoods and create affordable banking alternatives to meet the needs of this community.

    To date, four credit unions are participating in the CUANY and Coopera program:

    Cooperative Federal Credit Union of Syracuse
    Entertainment Industries Federal Credit Union of New York City
    Bridgeway Federal Credit Union of Poughkeepsie
    MSBA Employees Federal Credit Union of Rockville Centre

    More information on the 2012 Hispanic Member Growth Strategy program is available via archived webinar at http://diigo.com/0pzxe.

    New York credit unions interested in participating in this program should contact Coopera at 866.518.0214 or www.cooperaconsulting.com for additional details.

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